Separating parents in Washington state must determine child custody and visitation arrangements for their children. Whether you are going through a divorce or other dispute affecting your family, the process of negotiating a child custody agreement and parenting plan that protects your child’s best interests can be time-consuming and emotionally challenging to navigate. Here’s a brief overview of the child custody and visitation process in Washington to help you prepare to create a parenting plan in the Vancouver area.
How Washington State Defines a Parenting Plan
In legal matters involving divorce, legal separation, parentage, or other parenting issues, a judge enters a court order known as a parenting plan. This document outlines parental responsibilities and custodial logistics, including how much time the child will spend with each parent, which parent(s) will make major decisions affecting the child, and how the parents will resolve disagreements as they arise. In general, the court encourages parents to include as many details as possible to prevent confusion and stress later on.
The Parenting Plan Process
Separating parents may establish a parenting plan on their own or go to court, where the judge will help create a plan for them. In most cases, working with the other parent to make a parenting plan allows both parents to feel more in control of the process and generally more satisfied with the outcome. Once you’ve negotiated a fair parenting plan, you can submit it to the court. Typically, judges will approve your proposed plan as long as it protects the best interests of your child. However, if you cannot reach an agreement, the judge will decide on a parenting plan after a hearing or trial. Once the judge signs the parenting plan, it becomes a binding and enforceable order. Should one party need to change the terms at any point, you’ll need to petition the court for a modification.
How a Trusted Vancouver Family Law Attorney Can Help
Legal matters that affect the family are inherently personal and emotional in nature. It can be overwhelming and stressful to navigate a divorce or child custody dispute on your own, which is why enlisting the support of an experienced family law attorney is highly recommended. Whether you have questions about the parenting plan process or simply need someone to help you negotiate a parenting plan that supports you and your family’s best interests, a knowledgeable family lawyer will help you achieve your goals.
If you need help with a divorce or child custody matter in the Vancouver area, call John L. Davis PLLC today at (360) 597-4740 to speak with a trusted and experienced family law attorney.